Public Sector, Governments Fund Bulk of Drug Development, Should Invest More in Neglected Diseases, Including AIDS, TB, Malaria, Report Says
The public sector and governments provide the majority of funding for the development of new drugs, but more funding should be allocated to the development of drugs to treat diseases -- including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria -- that primarily affect people in developing countries, according to a report released on Thursday by the Global Forum for Health Research, Reuters reports (MacInnis, Reuters, 4/20). Governments and the public sector contribute 84.2% of funding for health research, the pharmaceutical industry provides 12%, and not-for-profit organizations provide 3.8%, Donald Light, professor of comparative health care systems at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and author of the report, said (AFP/Yahoo! News, 4/20). The report also highlights the imbalance between where health research funding is spent and the burden of diseases in developing countries (Xinhua/People's Daily, 4/21). According to the report, experts estimate that 10% of global resources for health research are spent on diseases affecting the world's poorest regions, which account for 90% of the world's curable disease burden (CBC News, 4/20). "Governments are going to have to get involved in this area" to bridge the gap, Stephen Matlin, the Global Forum's executive director, said. He added that wealthy nations should increase public spending for drugs to treat TB and parasitic infections and should give more funding to public-private partnerships. In addition, organizations such as the Institute for OneWorld Health, the Medicines for Malaria Venture and the Global Alliance for TB Drug Development will need more funding to offset expenses associated with late-stage clinical trials, Matlin said (Reuters, 4/20). He added that he hopes "the provocative opinions" in the report would spur debate and action "that will lead ultimately to greater resources for health and research to focus on neglected diseases" (Global Forum release, April 2006).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.